CHICAGO The new
aluminum-intensive body enclosure of the Ford F-150 pickup
truck could use about 1,000 pounds of the light metal per
vehicle, boosting total demand by at least 500 million pounds
annually, according to industry analysts.
Much of that initial
demand could be for primary metal, some analysts said, similar
to the can markets shift from steel to aluminum decades
ago. The can sheet sector initially relied on primary metal for
feedstock until enough scrap was generated to form a recycling
network based on used beverage cans (UBCs), they said.
"Can sheet became a
real product in the late 1960s, so it was the late 70s,
early 80s before it became more than 50 percent scrap,"
said Lloyd OCarroll, principal of OCarroll Aluminum
Bulletin. He predicted that it will be at least 10 years before
scrap becomes a significant contender to primary metal as
feedstock for auto body sheet, and thatunlike
cansauto might never shift to more than 50-percent
recycled content, given the sectors demanding
estimated that the 2015 F-150 will use about 1,000 pounds of
aluminum per vehicle and that 700,000 to 750,000 vehicles could
be produced annually, creating new demand for as much as 750
million pounds per year, including aluminum that becomes scrap
in the stamping process. "In steel, scrap rates are between 35
and 45 percent of the parts, and there is no reason to think
scrap rates on aluminum are going to be much different," he
Ford Motor Co. said that almost all of the body structure,
closures and cargo box of the F-150 will be made with aluminum
but did not provide a specific amount of aluminum per vehicle.
The automaker also declined to provide a production forecast
for the vehicle.
managing director of the materials practice at Troy,
Mich.-based market research firm Ducker Worldwide LLC, said the
1,000 pounds of aluminum expected to be used on each F-150
would include about 600 pounds for the vehicles aluminum
body enclosure vs. about 350 pounds of total aluminum on the
Those 600 pounds will
require roughly 1,000 pounds of aluminum input per vehicle for
sheet and extrusions in the body enclosure alone, or roughly
500 million pounds of new incremental demand assuming 500,000
vehicles are produced per year, Schultz said. "Its not
earth-shaking in the grand scheme of things. But for the guys
making the sheet and the extrusions, its a big deal," he
Producers will reach a
"steady state" where they get back 30 to 40 percent of what
they ship to automakers and suppliers as scrap, but the process
of recovering new vehicles as scrap could take time, Schultz
said. "Other than the ones that get crashed, people drive these
trucks forever," he said, estimating it could take roughly 15
years for new F-150s to re-enter the scrap stream.
The difficulty in
sourcing material for body enclosures on the F-150 is due in
part to more-demanding alloyssuch as 6111 and
5754used in its body, Schultz said. "Its nothing
exotic. But theyre not run-of-the-mill 6061 or 5182. You
cant walk into a service center and buy sheet that you
can use to make the F-150."
But while it will be
years before aluminum-body F-150s enter the scrap stream in
significant numbers, they will have an impact on the market in
2014especially as production of the vehicles begins
toward the middle of the year, according to Timothy Hayes,
principal of Lawrence Capital, Richmond, Va.
About 5.1 billion
pounds of aluminum are expected to be shipped to the automotive
industry in the United States and Canada in 2015, up 10.9
percent from the 4.6 billion pounds Hayes estimates was shipped
to the sector in 2014. The double-digit growth comes even as
auto production is expected to increase only 3 percent to 16.6
million vehicles in 2014, he said.
forecast gain in shipments can be divided almost equally among
three factors: more cars and trucks being produced, the ongoing
shift from steel to aluminum, and the switchover of the F-150
body to aluminum, Hayes said. "So 3 to 4 percent of that
increase is driven mainly by the change on the F-150.
Thats why its truly a big deal."
And the F-150 is
likely only the first of several programs expected to
significantly boost aluminum content in coming years, according
to Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., one of the
metal suppliers to the F-150. "It is just the beginning," a
company spokesman said. "We have active programs in place with
just about every (original equipment manufacturer) there